Donovan Will Slowly Increase Stars Playing Time

By Randy Renner

Thunder superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have each played about 20-22 minutes in the team's first two pre-season games.

Head coach Billy Donovan says that number will slowly increase.

"I think we'll start to increase that," Donovan said after Sunday's practice. "I think as we go through the pre-season you'll see that steadily increase as we go forward. Since we played on Wednesday-Friday in talking with the medical staff we thought 20-22 minutes would be ideal for that week."

Donovan rested both Nick Collison and Kyle Singler on Friday and Thunder GM Sam Presti indicated before training camp that Durant especially, since he's coming off his foot surgery, and Serge Ibaka, coming off knee surgery, would likely not play in at least one pre-season game too. In past years Thunder regulars generally sat out at least one game. 

On Sunday Donovan said no firm decisions have been made yet.

"I think what we'll probably end up doing is sittin' down with Russell and Kevin and sit down with the medical staff and just find out what's the best thing to do in that situation. I know in the past those guys have sat out at least one pre-season game and I think that's something we'll strongly take into consideration."

All the Thunder regulars are expected to play in Tuesday night's game against Dallas in Tulsa. The Thunder will be in Memphis on Friday and that would probably be a pretty good game to sit Durant and maybe some of the other starters too.

Expect More Post Ups From Russ

Westbrook has worked on his post up game the last three seasons and now under Donovan you can expect to see even more when the 6-3, 200 pound Thunder point guard is up against a smaller and less physical guard.

“Against most guards that he’s playing against, especially point guards, he’s going to be bigger and stronger than them,” said Donovan. “That’s going to be a part of things we do offensively.”

“Oh yeah, definitely. I’m not going to overuse it, but I use it on any advantage I have size-wise and strength-wise as well,” Westbrook said. “(Donovan) is encouraging me to exploit mismatches and matchups.”

Westbrook did just that Friday against Fenerbahce point guard Kostas Sloukas in the third quarter. Westbrook posted him up and bulled his way to the basket for an easy bucket. Heading back up the floor Donovan told Westbrook, "Russ, keep doing it." So he did it again and then again on the next two Thunder possessions which also ended in Westbrook buckets.

"He's really good at it," Donovan said. "And he doesn't mind what side to be on. A lot of post players will say I like it on the left block or the right block but (Westbrook) doesn't mind what block he gets it on. So that's, I don't wanna say wrinkle, but that's another dilemma you can present to different teams."



Randy RennerComment